Summer arts program offered at Leland & Gray

TOWNSHEND — The Leland & Gray Players offer a Summer Performing Arts Exploration (SPAE) for young people entering grades 5 to 8.

The program opens with a family potluck gathering Sunday, July 22, and runs Monday through Friday, July 23 to Aug. 3, with culminating performances at 7 p.m. on Aug. 3 and at 3 p.m. on Aug. 4.

Typical days will include theater games, production work and workshops in acting, music, scene design, movement and dance, lighting, costumes, and prop-making. These skill-building activities will culminate in a final performance inspired by C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia: “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” with an original script and music by Leland & Gray alumni and SPAE founders, Karlie Kauffeld, Claire Zukas, and Johnny Pozzi.

The program will take place in the Dutton Gymnasium and the Roland Gould Wing on the Leland & Gray campus on Route 30.

“Four years ago, Karlie and Claire, then rising seniors, introduced a gratifyingly successful performing arts program for elementary school kids,” said Leland & Gray theater director Ann Landenberger.

“The interest has been so high since SPAE's inception,” she continued, “that this year we're offering even more to area kids who want to grow and learn through the performing arts.”

New this year is SPAE After Houras in which workshops will be offered - one per afternoon - in monologue writing, music composition, acting, visual arts, voice, and poetry-out-loud from 3:30 to 5 p.m. each day.

“Two Players initiated this and now it serves not only younger kids in the West River Valley, but also high school students who want to help lead those kids,” Landenberger said.

Kauffeld is now a music education major at the University of Vermont and Zukas is a management/marketing major/studio art minor at Manhattanville College. Other key staff members are Johnny Pozzi, who will begin at Fordham University's acting program in the fall and Melissa Soule, an English major at Williams College.

In addition, this year's staff includes Ann Landenberger as managing director and composer and L & G's music director, Ron Kelley, as music workshop leader. Other workshop leaders will be announced in early June.

“We intend to incorporate many different aspects of theatre in our program,” Kauffeld explained. “At the end of the two-week period, all are invited to see our final production.”

Zukas added, “The show itself is used as the tool to teach theater arts and it will be rewarding. But really, it is the process of working on the show that will offer the richest learning opportunities. Moreover, working with guest artists gives participants a chance to meet people who have excelled in the arts they love.”

The cost for SPAE is $200 total per student for the two weeks and $10 per SPAE After Hours workshop. A sliding scale fee is available for those in need. For registration information, contact Landenberger at [email protected] or call 802-365-7355, ext. 204.

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